In the past, I have always leaned towards full tower cases with a nice window and nice cable management to show off my finished work. However, within the last 6-8 months, I have been lurking forums such as Small Form Factor and really starting to like and appreciate SFF style builds. I knew this would be an interesting twist on the typical building that I am used to and would challenge me a little more than I previously have been. This essentially added much excitement while I made my part selection and started to plan everything out.
With the knowledge that I was going to be selling my 5820K & 980Ti build to help fund this project, I had a strict criteria this build had to meet.
- Portable - This build had to be portable in the sense of minimal time to pack up, all while fitting in a backpack and having the ability to be transported nearly anywhere. I did not want to risk watercoolers leaking or being troublesome while flying. I also wanted to avoid any heavy, unsupported parts that would risk damaging the motherboard during transport.
- Wireless - While it can't be completely wireless, I wanted as few cables as possible to assist the portability factor. I like to game using an Xbox controller, so I needed a case that wouldn't be problematic to internally place wireless receivers to prevent external dongles from having to be constantly unplugged when traveling.
- Workhorse - I needed my new build to have a powerful enough CPU and RAM to handle photography work, light web dev work, occasional video editing from gameplay footage, and whatever else I throw at it.
- Game ready - My vision was set on something that could readily handle VR if I decide to go that route as well as just all-around gaming in 3440x1440p without having to turn down all of my settings for it to keep up.
Now that I had my goals laid out, I started doing my homework. I spent a solid 3-4 months reading TONS of build logs from all over the web. I lurked popular forums such as SFF Network, Linus Tech Tips, and of course, PCPartPicker to get some ideas of what was out there as far as cases and what parts properly worked with those cases. I wanted to get a good grasp of everything that I would need to efficiently tackle cable management, thermal issues, PSU solutions, etc.
Once I came across the S4 Mini by Not From Concentrate, I knew that it was the case I wanted. Unfortunately, I missed the September pre-order by just a couple weeks which was a real bummer. While purely studying S4 Mini builds, I started reaching out to a couple of friends with engineering knowledge and discussed building something similar, yet different. After starting to truly understand the work involved in making a "from scratch" case, I decided I would just settle on the Logic Supply MC600 and just have a little CNC work done to add some character.
Fortunately, just before I ordered my parts, I decided to check one last time on the NFC website and see if either a new pre-order was up, or if he had a couple that buyers backed out on their orders. When I went on the website, I saw the link to SFFLab stating that pre-orders for the newest revision of the now named Skyreach4 were now open. I placed my order in early December and started ordering parts. My case didn't actually arrive until late January which gave me plenty of time to continue doing homework and learning as much as possible.
NOT FROM CONCENTRATE, SKYREACH 4 MINI (<5.0L)
- I chose this case due to a number of reasons. It was roughly the same size as a gaming console, yet I could pack much more powerful parts into it. This would definitely meet the "portability" factor of my checklist. I also found the case to be aesthetically pleasing and nearly identical to what I had in mind when I started this journey.
- I bought the carbon fiber bezel with the sky slots purely for aesthetics, and purchased the SkyBracket to use as anchor points for zip ties for cable management.
INTEL i7-8700K, 6 CORE 3.7Ghz BASE, 4.3Ghz TURBO
- Coming from a 5820k, I wanted something either similar or better. It made no sense to sell my setup for cheap, just to downgrade. I knew it would be a long journey to get thermals under control and after a week of tedious fine-tuning, that was proved to be true. However, going from a 3.3Ghz base, 3.6Ghz turbo chip to a 3.7Ghz base, 4.3(6c)/4.7(1c)Ghz turbo would be a welcomed upgrade in performance.
- I knew right off the bat that I would have to de-lid the CPU in order to even begin to keep it under throttling limits. When I purchased it, I had it shipped directly from Amazon to Silicon Lottery for the de-lid.
- I used the LP53 cooler over the Noctua L9I due to every test that I read into on forums. The test showed the LP53 having around 3-4° lower temps in the same testing scenario. This did require the use of zipties to mount the Noctua NF-A9x14 fan as the LP53 naturally uses a smaller mounting footprint.
32GB (2x 16GB) G.SKILL RIPJAWS V DDR4-3200Mhz
- Having 32GB of ram in my previous build, I didn't want to downgrade anywhere at all if possible. Since my motherboard only has two DIMM slots, I decided to spend the money and get two 16GB sticks of memory. I had come close to using up all 32GB in the past, so I knew 16gb wouldn't cut it for my uses.
ZOTAC GTX 1080 MINI
- Knowing that I was upgrading from dual 27" 1080p monitors to a single 34" ultrawide 1440p monitor, I wanted a little upgrade over my previous 980Ti. I was forced to go with the mini series to fit properly in the Skyreach4 case.
- I wanted the possibility to be able to record 1440p footage on demanding games without sacrificing max/near maxed settings in games. I knew my two options would be a 1080 or 1080Ti. Being my first small form factor build, and better yet going ultra SFF, I felt the 1080 would be a little easier to manage in regards to thermals.
SAMSUNG 960 EVO 1TB M.2 NVMe
- The 960 Evo seemed like a good upgrade for a boot and primary application drive. This is where all my programs/applications are installed as well as my lightroom catalog, image previews, and most recent 6 months of images are saved for active editing.
CRUCIAL MX300 1.1TB M.2 SSD
- This drive is a bit slower than the 960 evo, but also cheaper. I decided I would save a few bucks as this will only be used as a download directory for Steam games and general text/spreadsheet documents.
G-UNIQUE ARCHDAEMON & ULTIMATE MODDED DELL 330W POWER BRICK (450W)
- There were only a few options in regards to powering this build. Either a plug in unit with the board built on to the 24pin, or a HDPlex 400w. Knowing I wanted a near wireless build, I opted for the plug in unit to save space in the front panel. This space would later be used as the home for 4 of my wireless peripheral receivers. This including the receivers for my Xbox controller, Logitech G613, Logitech G603, and HyperX Cloud Flights.
- The G-unique PSU are hand made by Gury and take roughly 20 days to ship. Since I knew I would be waiting a while for my case pre-order, I had no problems waiting.
PRIMARY MOUSE - LOGITECH G603 W/ LIGHTSPEED
- This has been a great mouse thus far. Coming from a Logitech G502 Prometheus that was a year old, my click timing has actually improved. In games, I had issues when clicking fast. I would drag items instead of equipping them due to the click not returning before I moved my mouse. Issues like that are no longer a problem.
PRIMARY KEYBOARD - LOGITECH G613 MECHANICAL W/ LIGHTSPEED
- I came from a Razer Blackwidow, and quite frankly within the first hour of using it, I realized that I liked this keyboard much better. It still has that mechanical feel, yet a lot quieter buttons that doesn't bother the wife when she is sleeping.
- There were only a few other quality options as far as wireless and mechanical, but they were all around 20-30hour battery life. Being a setup for traveling, I opted for the G613 due to the rated 18 month battery life.
HEADSET - KINGSTON HYPERX CLOUD FLIGHT
- There were tons of options for wireless headsets out there. With my given budget, I opted for the Cloud Flights by Kingston/HyperX due to the reviews on how comfortable the ear cups were with glasses. Coming from Razer Krakens that weren't the most comfortable with glasses, these were a huge upgrade.
EXTRA PERIPHERALS AND PARTS RELATED TO PERIPHERALS
- I use the Logitech K830 keyboard w/ touchpad for couch/bed browsing. Really handy for playing cartoons in the bed while the kiddo is laying down getting ready for bed. It doesn't see a ton of use, but so far, no complaints.
- I also purchased two motherboard header adapters. One 20pin to dual usb3.0 and one 10pin to dual usb2.0. These are for routing my receivers internally to leave my USB ports open in case I decide to buy a VR set up. This also prevents me from having to disconnect the longer receivers like the Xbox dongle and HyperX dongles during traveling for risk of them breaking off.
Benchmarks are all at stock clock speeds and voltage.
Max temperatures are results of consecutively running all the following benchmarks. After I finished with those, I ran FurMark stress test for 10 minutes to warm up the GPU.
CPU - 78c
GPU - 74c
Samsung 960 Evo - 48c
Crucial MX300 - 49c
Motherboard - 32c
Cinebench R15 - 154fps | 1409cb
CrystalDiskMark - Samsung 960 Evo
CrystalDiskMark - Crucial MX300
Fire Strike - 18,908
FurMark 1080p - 9,619
FurMark 1440p - 6,607
Geekbench CPU - 5,863 | 25,695
Geekbench GPU - 178,732
Novabench - 3,056
PCMark 10 - 6,092
Time Spy - 7,438
VRMark Orange Room - 10,967